Do you compare yourself to others and feel inadequate, jealous, or resentful? Does it feel like something is missing, and you get depressed, unable to move forward because you’re waiting for it to change? The question becomes, how do you stop comparing yourself to others so you can feel satisfied with where you are and what you have? Good question!
When I read Theodore Roosevelt’s words, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” it got me to thinking. It’s a loss we can avoid.
If we allow something or someone to steal our joy and happiness, what are we feeling instead? The other side of the coin is misery, despair, sadness, and sorrow. And those aptly describe some of the feelings that bubble up when we see others as our rivals—and we don’t match up. But, we are conditioned, since childhood, to play this comparison game.
It might look like this: we compare our school grades, our circle of friends, the colleges that accept our applications, the cars we drive, our job titles, and how much money we have. Additionally, we compare dress sizes, vacation destinations, and our level of perceived success.
And in doing so, we might be comparing someone else’s strengths to our weaknesses. Now, that’s not a fair comparison. Plus, we don’t know the whole story, and we make assumptions about what we see. Outward appearances often mask what’s going on behind the scenes.
The funny thing is, we often do this unconsciously because it is so ingrained in our behavior. We don’t even notice we are masters of the game of comparing ourselves to others. And the problem is, we don’t realize how it is affecting the choices we make.
So, how do you stop comparing yourself to others so you can make better choices?
Breaking the Habit of Comparing Yourself to Others
When you want to change the habit of comparing yourself to others, you first need to be aware that you’re doing it. That requires paying attention to the inner chatter.
When you scroll through social media and see a friend’s post about their vacation, and you’re staying home because you can’t afford a trip, what do you think or say? Someone else got a new car. Another friend’s business appears to be doing better than yours. You missed out on a promotion, and your friend got the job. She lost 20 pounds. Notice the words that come into your head—you might even speak some of them out loud.
When this happens, stop yourself, don’t criticize, and reframe the situation. Acknowledge that your friend’s life is not yours, and vice versa. Be happy for them instead of jealous. And accept that you are who you are, and your journey is unique. Allow the other people in your life to be on a different path.
Then, look around, be grateful for all the good in your life, and remind yourself daily. It could be as simple as giving thanks that you woke up this morning, have a roof over your head, and breakfast on the table. But, I’ll bet there are many more things for which you are grateful. Name them.
Next, highlight your strengths and achievements—they are what make you unique. You are a masterpiece worth celebrating. Plus, you’re a work-in-progress. Aren’t we all? Be kind to that part.
As you reframe the circumstance that makes you compare yourself to others, strive for excellence, not perfection. You don’t need to impress anyone else. Decide what you want for yourself, align your plans with your values, and move forward doing your best to achieve your goals.
Then, enjoy the journey.
What Can You Do Instead?
If you still notice that you’re comparing yourself to others, instead celebrate the blessings in your life. These might be things you’re grateful for, for sure. But, they might also be the way things turned out. Did something fall into place for you, as if it was meant to be? That’s what I’m talking about.
Then, step aside and be an objective observer. Take a different perspective on your situation as though you are seeing it for the first time. Watch for new insights, ideas, and impressions.
Another great technique is to make a comparison work for you. Who do you admire? Who inspires you to become a better you? What character traits do you want to emulate, practice, and hone? Now, that’s a worthwhile comparison that leads you to take positive action and make a difference for yourself and others.
Whenever you feel yourself slipping back into the comparison mode, remind yourself: don’t compete—collaborate. Because life is not a competition, and there are no winners and losers. Working together to lift each other up will result in a win-win, and there is no need to compare ourselves to others for that to happen.
One of the best tricks in my book is to stop “should-ing” yourself. If you’re anything like me, you probably catch yourself saying I should do this, or I shouldn’t have done that. It happens more often than I’d like—welcome to the work-in-progress. What if you said instead, “Taking notice that I’m “should-ing” myself, and next time, I’ll do better.”
Finally, if you are still stuck comparing yourself to others, become a storyteller, and tell the story differently. You get to be the author, editor, and leading lady, so change how the story ends by stepping into your power and rewriting the next chapter.
Putting a Cap on Comparing Yourself to Others
This thing about comparing ourselves to others is nothing new. It’s an age-old habit that many have tried and failed to break. I don’t want to be one of those failures. Do you? To inspire us both further, I’ve tapped into what several wise men and women who have come before us have said about this condition of comparison.
I hope these quotes will help you put a different spin on it—they worked for me. It’s time to feel the joy again.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” ~Zen Shin
“The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.” ~Unknown
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” ~Coco Chanel
And, I would add to that: No apologies, no excuses.
Respect her accomplishments without doubting your own. ~MTK
The Next Step
If you live life “should-ing” yourself, or you can’t stop comparing yourself to others; you may not like yourself much or even know who you are anymore. Making choices to move beyond the comparisons can be challenging, and getting some guidance may be just what you need. Let’s have a chat and talk about how to get you to the other side so you can move from panicked to powerful and from rocky to resilient. Request your conversation with María.